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The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian Faith

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Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the comm Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department’s curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down—the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a “train wreck” at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could. "Conversion put me in a complicated and comprehensive chaos. I sometimes wonder, when I hear other Christians pray for the salvation of the “lost,” if they realize that this comprehensive chaos is the desired end of such prayers. Often, people asked me to describe the “lessons” that I learned from this experience. I can’t. It was too traumatic. Sometimes in crisis, we don’t really learn lessons. Sometimes the result is simpler and more profound: sometimes our character is simply transformed." —Rosaria Butterfield


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Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the comm Rosaria, by the standards of many, was living a very good life. She had a tenured position at a large university in a field for which she cared deeply. She owned two homes with her partner, in which they provided hospitality to students and activists that were looking to make a difference in the world. There, her partner rehabilitated abandoned and abused dogs. In the community, Rosaria was involved in volunteer work. At the university, she was a respected advisor of students and her department’s curriculum. And then, in her late 30s, Rosaria encountered something that turned her world upside down—the idea that Christianity, a religion that she had regarded as problematic and sometimes downright damaging, might be right about who God was, an idea that flew in the face of the people and causes that she most loved. What follows is a story of what she describes as a “train wreck” at the hand of the supernatural. These are her secret thoughts about those events, written as only a reflective English professor could. "Conversion put me in a complicated and comprehensive chaos. I sometimes wonder, when I hear other Christians pray for the salvation of the “lost,” if they realize that this comprehensive chaos is the desired end of such prayers. Often, people asked me to describe the “lessons” that I learned from this experience. I can’t. It was too traumatic. Sometimes in crisis, we don’t really learn lessons. Sometimes the result is simpler and more profound: sometimes our character is simply transformed." —Rosaria Butterfield

30 review for The Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert: An English Professor's Journey Into Christian Faith

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kirk

    I try to be fairly judicious with my five-star ratings, but this little autobiographical sketch of one woman's journey from her place in life as a lesbian, radical-feminist English professor to a stay-at-home-Psalm-singing-homeschooling-foster-mom-pastor's wife earned every bit of the five stars. While many pop-evangelical conversion stories are written in an often-clunky style that yields a narrative arc that reads something like "bad, bad, bad, bad - JESUS - problems solved", Dr. Butterfield's I try to be fairly judicious with my five-star ratings, but this little autobiographical sketch of one woman's journey from her place in life as a lesbian, radical-feminist English professor to a stay-at-home-Psalm-singing-homeschooling-foster-mom-pastor's wife earned every bit of the five stars. While many pop-evangelical conversion stories are written in an often-clunky style that yields a narrative arc that reads something like "bad, bad, bad, bad - JESUS - problems solved", Dr. Butterfield's story is honest, glorious, wise, and a punch in the gut. Her story is one that reveals Jesus of Nazareth as no tame lion but also as the perfectly resplendent and irresistible Bright and Morning Star. But what is, in this reviewer's opinion, equally important as the spiritual transformation that Dr. Butterfield chronicles is the neighborhood the reader gets to know along the way. For instance, for those of us who have no concept of what life is like inside the gay and lesbian community, we are treated to a respectful description of that community and the virtues that are inherent in it from a person who was leaving it. There is no sense of bitterness or contempt toward the gay community in Dr. Butterfield's account - no sour grapes - just a visceral recollection of the personal agony caused by leaving it juxtaposed with the irresistibility of the call of Christ on her life. As a part of her exodus from the gay and lesbian community, Dr. Butterfield is folded into a Reformed Presbyterian church community that walks alongside her through her pain. But it is this same church community that gives her her deepest wound - a wound that she receives just as she seems to be finding her footing in Christ's church. This reader wondered for a time if the grace of the cross and the empty tomb would be enough to sustain her. Ironically though, it was this deep wound that helped her regain her "safe person status" in the eyes of the gay and lesbian community, thus granting her opportunities to minister Christ to those who felt she had betrayed them. As one lesbian neighbor said to her, "I didn't give a damn about who God was to you in your happiness. But now that you are suffering, I want to know: who is your God? Where is he in your suffering?" (pg. 60) The middle and end of this autobiography is a description of her growth in Christian maturity, but she engages the reader quite well so as to prevent the narrative from becoming tedious or difficult. The portion where Dr. Butterfield is the most critical (and appropriately so) is where she helps us see where our spiritual formation is too often superficial and how the church frequently allows us to frolic in our biblical immaturity. She uses her experiences as a visiting professor at Geneva College, her time trying to minister to college students in a small church plant in Virginia, the heart-rending life of a foster-to-adopt family, and the highs and woes of the world of homeschooling to walk her readers through the lessons of life that helped form Christ in her. There is so much to be learned from Dr. Butterfield's story that no review could ever highlight all that is valuable in it. There is so much to enjoy in her beautifully written prose that I can't imagine only reading this once. I found her story a little bit like that Narnian lion: it is good but not safe. Dr. Butterfield will make her readers want to sing and repent, to tear down the vapid and vacuous parts of our lives while showing us the uncommon grace that is obvious in our own experiences if we only have the courage to look for and embrace it by faith.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Amy Kannel

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This started out so strong; I was sure I was going to love it. But after the account of her background and her conversion, I ended up disappointed. I felt like she made the leap from "former lesbian feminist professor, reluctant/resentful convert" to "homeschooling pastor's wife" too quickly in the narrative. I would have liked to read more about *how* she transitioned into this new life. How did she lose the job at Syracuse? How did her relationship with her pastor-husband develop? What became This started out so strong; I was sure I was going to love it. But after the account of her background and her conversion, I ended up disappointed. I felt like she made the leap from "former lesbian feminist professor, reluctant/resentful convert" to "homeschooling pastor's wife" too quickly in the narrative. I would have liked to read more about *how* she transitioned into this new life. How did she lose the job at Syracuse? How did her relationship with her pastor-husband develop? What became of her relationships in the gay community that were initially strained but still important to her early on? How did her faith in Jesus transform from resenting His meddling in her life, to actually embracing faith in Him and feeling joyful about it? Meanwhile, instead of really delving into these things, she spent an inordinate amount of time arguing for the Regulative Principle of Worship and defending her particular denomination, which I found unhelpful, unnecessary and off-putting. The parts about her experience as a foster parent and adoptive mother were inspiring, but the story arc as a whole felt sort of jarring, with too many missing pieces. I still think she has valuable insights to offer the church, especially with regard to evangelism and community. Hers is a unique perspective as both "outsider" and "insider," and she has sharp, poignant critiques that Christians should take seriously. But in the end this book wasn't what I thought it would be, and I was dissatisfied that it fell short of what it easily could have been.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mitch Nichols

    What I appreciated most about the book was the glimpse into how love, patience and relationship building was the true apologetic that allowed the Gospel to take seed and eventually germinate into a life radically changed by Jesus Christ. Just the first two chapters alone make the book worth reading as the reader gets a small idea from a human perspective how truly devastating it can be for someone to give up their complete identity and world-view to follow Christ. I also appreciated some of Butt What I appreciated most about the book was the glimpse into how love, patience and relationship building was the true apologetic that allowed the Gospel to take seed and eventually germinate into a life radically changed by Jesus Christ. Just the first two chapters alone make the book worth reading as the reader gets a small idea from a human perspective how truly devastating it can be for someone to give up their complete identity and world-view to follow Christ. I also appreciated some of Butterfield's comments related to the challenges of a new believer being integrated into the Christian subculture and how the church in America struggles to appreciate diversity in it's politics, schooling, child-rearing and ideas on race. Chapter 3 had a really excellent critique of the excuses people use to leave churches because of the "theology of fear" we have unwittingly accepted. The section on the Regulative Principle seemed unnecessary and unwelcome, and for that I could only give the book four stars. Some thought provoking challenges on Christian's being active in adoption and foster children that are worth considering.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Banner

    After reading such an amazing book, wherein the author articulates her thoughts with such a command of language;  I want to give a thought provoking review that at least  makes a pretense to simulate  the authors work.  But the only word that comes to mind is, "Wow". Seriously,  "Wow". I guess I should be a little more serious, but the book really is that good. Her use of critical thinking and examination of worldview as it applies to Christianity and our culture After reading such an amazing book, wherein the author articulates her thoughts with such a command of language;  I want to give a thought provoking review that at least  makes a pretense to simulate  the authors work.  But the only word that comes to mind is, "Wow". Seriously,  "Wow". I guess I should be a little more serious, but the book really is that good. Her use of critical thinking and examination of worldview as it applies to Christianity and our culture as a whole; is truly refreshing.   Please hear what I'm about to say..... Regardless of your current views, faith or for that matter whatever position that you may be leaning toward in our culture's current war of values; you should listen to what she has to say.  This is a very personal story that enables us to see the thought process of a intelligent and well-educated person as she examines faith in Jesus as it applies to her life. This book is nothing if not raw and honest. One of my favorite quotes that I think exemplifies the authors attitude. "One of God's greatest gifts is the ability  to see and appreciate the world from points of view foreign to your own, points of view that exceed your personal experience." This attitude enabled the author to examine some of her own deeply held convictions.  But also know this, she continues to examine her new convictions just as critically . By the way, in case your worried about stereotypes; don't. This book is not anywhere near "preachy". 

  5. 4 out of 5

    Trice

    2/2/2014: just as impactful the 2nd time round. 3/20/2013: finally listened to GenRef's podcast interview with Rosaria and Pastor Ken together - so great to hear them both. 4/24/2013: This discussion of the book on the new podcast "Mortification of Spin" made me laugh 11/2/2012: There's a great interview with the author on David Murray and Tim Challies Connected Kingdom podcast: The Testimony of an Unlikely Convert September 2012: So I gave in and grabbed an electronic copy 2/2/2014: just as impactful the 2nd time round. 3/20/2013: finally listened to GenRef's podcast interview with Rosaria and Pastor Ken together - so great to hear them both. 4/24/2013: This discussion of the book on the new podcast "Mortification of Spin" made me laugh 11/2/2012: There's a great interview with the author on David Murray and Tim Challies Connected Kingdom podcast: The Testimony of an Unlikely Convert September 2012: So I gave in and grabbed an electronic copy directly from Crown & Covenant after reading the beginning on amazon. Sort of wish I had the hard copy, but as that's not possible at this point I was glad I could still read it now due to all these lovely electronic options. It's not a long read page- or time- wise. It also doesn't feel like a narrative with a straight line through it - each chapter is very much its own piece, though as with any life, there are strands of common reflection and, of course, the open honesty and intensity that characterizes Rosaria. And it is this that in some ways makes it a difficult read because, as she lays out her own soul struggles and interpersonal encounters, she challenges us to do the same in a real, true, authentic, soul sifting way. Wishing so much for a chance for more conversation with her. I don't agree with all her conclusions, but I admire her willingness to look honestly at her own opinions, at both her hermeneutic and her worldview, and revise these, not without agonies, but with a thoroughness that is not common. I can say honestly that this is internal terrain I often shy away from, at least to the extent that she has gone, knowing the pain that awaits. I pray for the courage and increasing understanding of the grace of God which alone allows one to look into the dark places of one's soul and re-emerge. In so many areas her words haunt me now and send me to God in prayer that I would see His will and heart and DO it... trying to see where some of it is related to gifting and calling, while some of it is related simply to who we are and are to be in Him. In particular in the area of being open to the fellowship with its shared intellectual questioning and exploration, and along the way healing, that she encourages and oh-so-naturally grows around her. Is it something about the way she approaches people that she is able to bring others to that openness, to that truth seeking, to the discussion of the real and the true, that it seems so difficult to find in church circles? Why is it so often that if people find this (and that's a big 'if') it is only with others who are like them and so lacking the challenge and the growth that she seeks for herself and to share with others? She meets people in a different way. I think. ;) There's a lot of intellectual and academic territory hinted at here that I've been mulling over in a couple different contexts which she seems to have been working at considering in light of the Bible, and that too, I wish we could delve into. Well, these are not all I'm thinking about, but some of it. Prior to Reading: Personal acquaintance would inspire me to read this (she is both an insightful and an inspiring person); the background of the author would inspire me to read this; but this review, had I not already added the book to my 'To Read' list, would definitely cause me to add it to the top. Carl Trueman, on the Reformation 21 blog, ends his review, Much Better Than The Daily Mail with these words: This autobiography is the launchpad for numerous sophisticated reflections on the nature of life, faith, sexuality, worship, education and other matters. As one would expect from a lover of nineteenth century literature, the book is also beautifully written with many a well-turned sentence; and as one would expect from someone schooled at the highest levels in critical theory, it eschews simplistic pieties for stimulating analyses of both Christian and non-Christian culture. 1st read: Sept 14-15, 2012

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    This book has a lot going for it. The first half was why I read it, and the second half is why I gave it only three stars. If the book were only her conversion experience, it would be one of the best books on the subject of dying to self and receiving new life in Jesus one could hope to come across. Here's what's so great about that first half: - It shows in a dramatic way where the heart of evangelism is: hospitality. I heard Rosaria Butterfield interviewed on the radio recently, and she v This book has a lot going for it. The first half was why I read it, and the second half is why I gave it only three stars. If the book were only her conversion experience, it would be one of the best books on the subject of dying to self and receiving new life in Jesus one could hope to come across. Here's what's so great about that first half: - It shows in a dramatic way where the heart of evangelism is: hospitality. I heard Rosaria Butterfield interviewed on the radio recently, and she very provocatively said, "If you only ever have church people in your home, that is not hospitality; it is fellowship." A moment's reflexion will reveal to you that she is absolutely right. This is convicting for me. It has made me commit myself to having strangers in my home a lot more often. To make it concrete for me, I have decided to have unbelievers in my home once a month at least. - People outside of the church live in messy environments, and we should expect that. Hey, Christians often have pretty messy lives, too, did you notice? Why are Christians so scandalized by the sinful lifestyles of unbelievers? It's because we're comfortable with some sins (like the ones I commit) but other sins, well, they're just wrong. We need to wake up to this. People who have gay sex are still made in God's image, and your sin is just as ugly as theirs. - Unbelievers are not the absolute pit of evil Christians think they are. Really. The militant pro-gay crowd REALLY believes they are doing the right thing. They see themselves as fighting for the cause of the oppressed, and they are sincerely doing this. Before we go gay-bashing, how about listening to their concerns and desires first? Our words need to be seasoned with salt, not poison. That doesn't mean they are RIGHT to believe the way they do, but we could do so much better with our witness if we would not condemn out of the box. Ready, FIRE, aim! is a bad way to operate. - Coming to faith means dying to self. Her coming to faith was like a train wreck. She lost everything. Christianity ruined her life, but she had no choice but to come to Jesus. Christians need to be ready to support people who come to faith, because their world is crashing down around them. They are starting over, how can you help? We win people to Christ gradually through establishing and maintaining real relationships with them. It's hard work, but it is rewarding. The book stopped being good when she started writing about her theology, church, family, homeschooling, etc. It is nice to see how things turned out for her, but she could have summarized all that stuff in a few paragraphs. I am thrilled she ended up in the RPCNA. She didn't need to give a defense of why exclusive psalmody and the regulative principle are her favorite things. All she needed to say was she's in the RPCNA because that's the church where she heard the gospel. But she kept writing. She even said at one point that the OPC doesn't sing Psalms. That's news to me. Every OPC I've been to has copies of the RPCNA Psalter in the pews and uses it for worship. If the OPC doesn't sing Psalms, neither does the RPCNA by that logic. The stories of adoption are interesting. I liked how she linked it up with the gospel, but again, the stories of family life take away from the real punch of the book. So go read the first half of the book, up to the chapter called "the good guys". It isn't really worth reading from that point. But that first half, man, it packs a wallop.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Galen

    In this book I found a friend who was also a stranger.* Many readers will perhaps experience something similar - a story with many familiar scenes but shown from a different angle, revealing things previously uncontemplated. And many scenes that one would expect to feel strange but find to be suprisingly resonant. In a word, this book will get inside of you. You will want to listen, to argue, to laugh, to apologize, to question, to pray, to ponder . . . and before you know it, you'll In this book I found a friend who was also a stranger.* Many readers will perhaps experience something similar - a story with many familiar scenes but shown from a different angle, revealing things previously uncontemplated. And many scenes that one would expect to feel strange but find to be suprisingly resonant. In a word, this book will get inside of you. You will want to listen, to argue, to laugh, to apologize, to question, to pray, to ponder . . . and before you know it, you'll be turning the last page and wondering how to begin to process everything that has been churned up within you. Of all the audiences Dr. Butterfield could have written for, she chose one close to home. People in many different places in life will benefit from what this story illuminates. But those most likely to benefit from her loving descriptions and blunt critiques are folks who have grown up comfortably in evangelical and Reformed churches. She exposes blind spots as only a sometime-outsider can do. And she minces no words about the costs and struggles and difficult truths that we'd rather ignore. But at bottom, this is more a story of the author's God than the author herself. For that is who she really wants to introduce you to, whether you think you know him or rather wish he/she/it didn't exist. And the unflinching honesty of the personal portrait will lead you there. *Disclosure: I count the author a friend and experienced a couple years of this story personally. Reading these "secret thoughts" now just makes me wish I had been ready to hear more of them then.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Eric Chappell

    An important book that many in the Christian community (maybe particularly Reformed & Presbyterian) should read. Basically, this book is an autobiography of radical, leftist university professor who found herself in a Small, conservative, psalm-singing denomination by God's (intruding & disruptive) grace. The book tracks roughly 15 years of her life: from her days as a university prof to her current life as a pastor's wife who homeschools their several adopted children. Overall, I liked An important book that many in the Christian community (maybe particularly Reformed & Presbyterian) should read. Basically, this book is an autobiography of radical, leftist university professor who found herself in a Small, conservative, psalm-singing denomination by God's (intruding & disruptive) grace. The book tracks roughly 15 years of her life: from her days as a university prof to her current life as a pastor's wife who homeschools their several adopted children. Overall, I liked the book. She has some very insightful, very helpful reflections on everything from evangelism to adoption to psalm-singing to church culture. I liked it. The first 3 chapters were worth the price of the book. While it was interesting to see how Butterfield dons her new identity as the wife of an RPCNA pastor, I wasn't as interested in the last couple chapters. Things I learned: 1) Don't treat your post-conversion sin as if it is less offensive to God than your pre-conversion sin. I appreciated how Butterfield continued to express throughout the pages of her Christian journey the struggle with sin she had and continues to have, and the daily necessity for repentance. 2) the LGBT community sees me as a follower of Christ as a close-minded, bigoted, hate monger who because I know Jesus won't read things out of my comfort zone and attends gay pride marches with "God hates fags" banners. In short: they see me as exclusive, judgmental, scornful, and afraid of diversity. How, through the gospel, can I overcome and show them what being a Christ-follower is really about? 3) As a Christ-follower, I'm often prone to using in-house language and relying on pat answers like "the Bible says." Be a rooted, thinking disciple and throw out the catch phrases and cliches. 4) Work from your strengths and cultivate resilience. 5) Evangelism to the lost must at some point involve worldview engagement. 6) Evangelism should consist of hospitality, gentle opposition, loving people, not peddling the Word. 7) True conversion will involve change of everything (26). 8) The Sin of Sodom was its pride, not first its distorted sexuality. Jesus doesn't want people to be heterosexual sinners. He wants a new creation, new sexuality, centered on His Person and Work. 9) Sanctification is always personal and communal. We need others. 10) Church is not a shopping mall whose existence depends on disseminating the latest, sexiest fads; nor is it a museum where ideas are valued because of tradition alone and where you can look but never touch. 11) I need to develop two kinds of ministry: one to those inside the church to foster fellowship; the other to those outside the church as a ministry of meeting the stranger at the gate. Favorite quotes: "Christians still scare me when they reduce Christianity to a lifestyle and claim that God is on the side of those who attend to the rules of the lifestyle they have invented or claim to find in the Bible" (5) "There is a core difference between sharing the gospel with the lost and imposing a specific moral standard on the unconverted" (7) "Living according to God's standards is an acquired taste" (30) Passage on sexual sin (83) Jesus is an equal opportunity Prophet, Priest, and King (107). We in the church tend to be more fearful of the (perceived) sin in the world than of the sin in our own heart. (115) There is no greater enemy to vital life-breathing faith than insisting on cultural sameness (115).

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erik Lee

    I'm not ashamed to say that I nearly bawled my eyes out as I finished this book. I picked up this volume not only because it was under the free download section for prime members on Amazon, but also because it seemed to be recommended by all corners of evangelicosphere. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. From first couple of chapters, I saw the transformation of a former feminist/lesbian English professor to Christ-embracing, sinner who was now redeemed. The chapters unpacked the clashing worldv I'm not ashamed to say that I nearly bawled my eyes out as I finished this book. I picked up this volume not only because it was under the free download section for prime members on Amazon, but also because it seemed to be recommended by all corners of evangelicosphere. Honestly, I wasn't expecting much. From first couple of chapters, I saw the transformation of a former feminist/lesbian English professor to Christ-embracing, sinner who was now redeemed. The chapters unpacked the clashing worldviews for Butterfield and how a rejection of her old self and acceptance of Christ meant the utter destruction of her life pillars. From resigning her privileged position as a college professor to faithfully engaging the roles of a pastor's wife, Butterfield exemplified the radical nature of conversion. Throughout the book, it was clear that unlike the neatly fashioned conversion stories whispered into the mic's in the suburban youth ministries of today, a real conversion--one wrecked by an encounter with Christ--changed lives and those around them. But the story doesn't end there. Throughout her journey as an adult-convert--to a reformed tradition, mind you--Butterfield documents her growth in the knowledge of her savior. Such development translates into her self-sacrificial outpouring of love towards those that have been traditionally marginalized and outcast (like she had been). It's at this transition in the story that I began to count my breath as I flipped (clicked) through each chapter. What is truly remarkable about her journey, as well as the tone in which she illustrates her pilgrimage, is that not only had she gone from a tenure-track professor to an adoptive pastor's wife of four kids, but she also managed to fully permeate her worldview with Christ-centeredness that not an ounce of her testimony hinted at self-interest. In the end I cried and repented because my Christianity was tame; it was benign and not offensive. My conversion was only natural, its results not easily counted. In the closing pages, my heart pounded heavier and heavier as the words pierced my dull soul into recognizing a real-life follower of Christ: one who considered everything a loss compared to knowing Christ. I concur with Doug Wilson who gave a resounding recommendation for this volume. If you want to read something that will warm and convict your heart, this is the book for you. Secondarily, if you want to see doctrine displayed in the theater of doxology, this book is for you. May this book lead you to your knees and to the Word, as it did for me.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Jeanie

    Got a notice of a price reduction on this book. Excited to start this one... One word refreshing! Now for the longer version, this book is amazing. It is written well. Written with intellect and experience and compassion. Mrs. Butterfield reminds you of what true evangelism, starting with her encounter with the truth. It did NOT start with condenmation, but questions with what she believed and why. We can always believe something to be good and right, but then when you start with the Got a notice of a price reduction on this book. Excited to start this one... One word refreshing! Now for the longer version, this book is amazing. It is written well. Written with intellect and experience and compassion. Mrs. Butterfield reminds you of what true evangelism, starting with her encounter with the truth. It did NOT start with condenmation, but questions with what she believed and why. We can always believe something to be good and right, but then when you start with the reasons why you believe, you start to see how superficial or shallow our belief is. Mrs. Butterfield's lifestyle at the time was a deep seeded so answering a few questions would not be suffice to change ones lifestyle, however, encountering the source of truth and with a surrender compeltely foreign to her, she had a train wreck with the living God. However, this is only a small part of her conversion. She went thru a whole identity crisis which lead to a faith crisis, which ultimately lead to her good. She speaks of community, being a pastor's wife, a mother of adopted children and homeschooling. A interview with Rosaira Buttefield is here.... http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/201... Be ready to think deeply, to ponder and to revel in who God is.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Joy

    Hmmmm, it wasn't what I expected. I really loved the first chapters about Rosaria's conversion and the love that others showed her. But the rest of the story felt a bit disjointed at best, and at worst slightly egotistical. Emphasis on her denomination and some of their practices being superior, among other things left the story falling flat at the end. For me anyway.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kris

    Only the first couple chapters are about her conversion. The majority of the book is about the effects of Christ on her life after her conversion. It was great to see how God used Butterfield's past experiences to make her a powerful force for good in today's Christian circles. But the title makes this story sound more dramatic than it really is. It's much more than "secret thoughts" or her "conversion." It's about how God transformed her and taught her things. It's got long tangents Only the first couple chapters are about her conversion. The majority of the book is about the effects of Christ on her life after her conversion. It was great to see how God used Butterfield's past experiences to make her a powerful force for good in today's Christian circles. But the title makes this story sound more dramatic than it really is. It's much more than "secret thoughts" or her "conversion." It's about how God transformed her and taught her things. It's got long tangents about education, parenthood and adoption, church worship, etc. It's all connected tangentially, which is good, and it's an enjoyable and insightful read -- but the title could be seen either as an annoying misnomer or a extra helping of blessings in disguise.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Hope

    This is a very unusual testimony and a very important book for Christians who want to learn how to break down barriers that hinder them from reaching non-believers.

  14. 5 out of 5

    ladydusk

    Own. Bought it for Kindle. What a read. Wish I bought a paper copy because I want to lend it to other people to read! This suddenly began being all over my little corner of the internet. I was compelled to check it out for myself, and I am so glad. Her story in the first couple of chapters is sensational; a practicing lesbian and professor of the same becomes a Christian? Her world is rocked and leveled? How can this be? God is good and reaches people Own. Bought it for Kindle. What a read. Wish I bought a paper copy because I want to lend it to other people to read! This suddenly began being all over my little corner of the internet. I was compelled to check it out for myself, and I am so glad. Her story in the first couple of chapters is sensational; a practicing lesbian and professor of the same becomes a Christian? Her world is rocked and leveled? How can this be? God is good and reaches people where they are through community to create new community. He uses means. The very Word of God is powerful and reaches in to change hearts. He uses his church to love and support and encourage and surprise. He uses prayer. The book then looks at what that conversion really meant, how it really plays out, how living a life for Christ with, as she puts it, an "R-rated conversion story" looks. How being a pastors wife is. How parenting is. How homeschooling is. How our conversion story isn't all that we are in Christ. How the community of faith is important in the daily, constant struggle of being true to Christ. And then a book is written to encourage the community. She brings a needed correction to the Christian community to open to the orphan (and foster child), widow, outcast, lesbian, gay, broken down, hurting people. Never was the writing boring. Never was it stilted. In places, where appropriate, it was honest and raw. In places, it was nuanced and gentle. I've read favorite books in January or February during the last couple of years, and this year is no different. If I could give this six stars (despite some differing ideas), I would. Read it.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jacqui

    We read this for a book club and we all came to the same conclusion. Butterfield was an extreme feminist and converted to an extreme Christian. Ironically becoming the person she despised in the beginning. So no, I didn't rate this book highly. The other thing that bugged us about this book was that is was less about the secret thoughts she was thinking through each stage of her life but more the well edited and mostly public thoughts (she shares several speeches she gave at the time) We read this for a book club and we all came to the same conclusion. Butterfield was an extreme feminist and converted to an extreme Christian. Ironically becoming the person she despised in the beginning. So no, I didn't rate this book highly. The other thing that bugged us about this book was that is was less about the secret thoughts she was thinking through each stage of her life but more the well edited and mostly public thoughts (she shares several speeches she gave at the time) which was misleading I felt as the reason I read the book was to find out what she was thinking! So super important, life changing events, like her conversion and her marriage are glossed over and other things (like her devotion to the regulative principle of worship) are belabored to death. So don't read this unless you want to be beaten over the head with the importance of adoption, home schooling, regulative principle of worship among others. If that interests you - go right ahead.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Rebekah Courter

    This is such a powerful book. It touched on a lot of things I've been thinking out. What sort of Gospel do I have? How can I reach a dying world if I don't have compassion for them? Is Christ really evident in me, that everyone knows He is living IN me? One of my favorite quotes: "We in the church tend to be more fearful of the (perceived) sin in the world than of the sin in our own hearts. When fear rules your theology, God is nowhere to be found in your paradigm, no matter how many v This is such a powerful book. It touched on a lot of things I've been thinking out. What sort of Gospel do I have? How can I reach a dying world if I don't have compassion for them? Is Christ really evident in me, that everyone knows He is living IN me? One of my favorite quotes: "We in the church tend to be more fearful of the (perceived) sin in the world than of the sin in our own hearts. When fear rules your theology, God is nowhere to be found in your paradigm, no matter how many verses you tack on to it." p.115

  17. 5 out of 5

    Mike Duran

    Rosario Butterfield went from being a professor in Syracuse University’s Women’s Studies Department, an English major specializing in Critical Theory, Secret-thoughts-unlikely-convertparticularly Queer Theory, a practicing lesbian who owned two houses with her partner, a political activist and outspoken advocate for numerous gay and lesbian causes, and a “tenured radical,” to being a Christian, heterosexual, married, mother of multiple adoptees and foster children, and pastor’s wife. Her journey Rosario Butterfield went from being a professor in Syracuse University’s Women’s Studies Department, an English major specializing in Critical Theory, Secret-thoughts-unlikely-convertparticularly Queer Theory, a practicing lesbian who owned two houses with her partner, a political activist and outspoken advocate for numerous gay and lesbian causes, and a “tenured radical,” to being a Christian, heterosexual, married, mother of multiple adoptees and foster children, and pastor’s wife. Her journey, chronicled in this short 150 page book entitled Secret Thoughts of an Unlikely Convert, is one of the most compelling testimonies I’ve ever read. There were no fireworks for this “convert.” No fall on your knees, dangling by the fingertips, come to Jesus moments. The terrain that’s traversed here is spiritual, intellectual, and relational. But the author describes it with humor and candor: “How do I tell you about my conversion to Christianity without making it sound like an alien abduction or a train wreck? Truth be told, it felt like a little of both. The language normally used to describe this odd miracle does not work for me. I didn’t read one of those tacky self-help books with a thin gentle coating of Christian themes, examine my life against the tenets of the Bible the way one might hold up one car insurance policy against all others and cleanly and logically, ‘make a decision for Christ.’ While I did make choices along this journey, they never felt logical, risk-free, or sane. Neither did I feel like the victim of an emotional / spiritual earthquake and collapse gracefully into the arms of my Savior, like a holy and sanctified Scarlett O’Hara having been ‘claimed by Christ’s irresistible grace.’ Heretical as it may seem, Christ and Christianity seemed eminently resistible.” Perhaps what I liked best about Butterfield’s testimony is its open-endedness. By that I mean, there’s no simple answers as to how she went from one cultural, ideological, spiritual extreme to the other. Except God’s amazing grace. If you’re looking for an evangelistic blueprint, you won’t find it here. Save for the timely orchestration of events (namely, a non-threatening letter from a local pastor that started the ball rolling), the only real “secret” here is the gracious, patient, non-condemning community of saints to which Butterfield was introduced. These relationships with “genuine” Christians turned her preconceptions, and defenses, on their ear. It’s a beautiful glimpse into the simple power of long-term, loving relationships with non-believers. Furthermore, if you’re looking for an anti-gay tract, this isn’t it. In fact, Butterfield doesn’t flinch in describing the rich relationship she shared inside the gay and lesbian community, and the heartbreak of having to distance herself from it. She broods, knowing that to openly profess Christ will cost her so many cherished relationships, if not her career. Her decision to publicly speak about her transformation while delivering the Graduate Student Orientation Convocation at Syracuse is utterly captivating. (A copy of her address, entitled “What King Solomon Teaches Those in the Wisdom Business: Active Learning and Active Scholarship,” is included in its entirety and, in my opinion, worth the price of the book.) Along the way, Butterfield walks the tightrope between the Christian community and the LGBT community, immersing herself in Scripture while receiving counsel from a transsexual, ex-Christian minister. It’s a fascinating, gritty glimpse into an intersection of unlikely worldviews. And in case you think the author is simply pitching Christianity or glossing over the Church’s blemishes, she’s not. In fact, she speaks with brutal honesty. “Christians always seemed like bad thinkers to me. It seemed that they could maintain their worldview only because they were sheltered from the world’s real problems, like the material structures of poverty and violence and racism. Christians always seemed like bad readers to me, too. They appeared to use the Bible in a way that Marxists would call “vulgar” — that is, common, or, in order to bring the Bible into a conversation to stop the conversation, not deepen it. …Their catch phrases were (and are) equally off-putting. ‘Jesus is the answer’ seemed to me then and now like a tree without a root. Answers come after questions, not before. Answers answer questions in specific and pointed ways, not in sweeping generalizations. ‘It’s such a blessing’ always sounds like a violation of the Third Commandment (“Do not take the Lord’s name in vain”) or a Hallmark card drunk with shmaltz. It seemed to me that the only people who could genuinely be satisfied with this level of reading and thinking were people who didn’t really read or think very much — about life or culture or anything.” In a way, this is a story about how the Church both alienates and reaches those outside its walls. Butterfield’s conversion from a religion she loathed to one she was baptized into, is full of insights — about culture, academic institutions, adoption, home schooling, sexuality, leadership, etc. The story occasionally bogs down as Butterfield expounds upon her growing membership in the Reformed Presbyterian Church. But never do you get the feel that she’s proselytizing. Or insincere. Interestingly enough, those on both sides of the aisle have taken some issue with this book. On the one hand are evangelicals who believe Butterfield does not distance herself enough from the LGBT community. On the other sides are those who dispute her conversion as a legitimate “reverse conversion” story. I find these responses fascinating. Butterfield does not make herself out to be (in her own words) “a poster child for gay conversion.” Instead, she speaks about “sexual sin,” pointing out that her struggle to overcome it is no different from anyone else’s. This short book left me with many questions, but ultimately inspired me to remember that God is still at work, even among those we think the most lost. I highly recommend this book!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Heather

    Especially appreciated her perspective on homeschooling and homeschool graduates and the need to expand beyond "like-minded" community.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sydney Blanchard

    The most compelling thing about Rosaria's story to me is how fantastically her life was changed by her conversion. God is truly working miracles among us today! She doesn't gloss over the losses that she suffered as a result, which i appreciated because its honestly true that Christianity requires (at times) painful sacrifices. I was challenged and inspired by the depth of Rosaria's examination of her presuppositions and the way she excavated her mind, body and soul to uncover and uproot the pre The most compelling thing about Rosaria's story to me is how fantastically her life was changed by her conversion. God is truly working miracles among us today! She doesn't gloss over the losses that she suffered as a result, which i appreciated because its honestly true that Christianity requires (at times) painful sacrifices. I was challenged and inspired by the depth of Rosaria's examination of her presuppositions and the way she excavated her mind, body and soul to uncover and uproot the presence of sin. I certainly don't examine much of anything in my life that diligently. I think the gradual process of her conversion was so important to watch, how sometimes it starts with simple obedience and ends with agreement. It was also traumatic, and I think Christians do well to know this, so they can better walk beside people who go through something similar. Rosaria's life is making a huge impact as a Christian, just as it did before she believed. This is because her convictions are honest and deep. In either lifestyle, she is authentic and "doing good." The difference is that her Christian lifestyle is controlled by her Maker, and it is extremely honest. She is at peace. Her life is ruled by love and not self-promotion or -preservation. She is bold and unafraid of personal sacrifice in everyday life, which I wish I could say of myself. This is where her story is challenging to me the most and where I identified most with the need for change and renewal. I was conflicted when she started to discuss very fine and (to me) nonessential points of Christian theology. I do think she has every right to speak about the importance of these things to her life and conversion, but for me personally I found it a rabbit-trail that didn't add to the power of her spiritual transformation. For me, still in need of transformation, I felt distanced from the power of her story when she delved into denominational arguments. But for Rosaria, it was a huge part of being fully honest about what carried her through the most painful parts of her conversion, and what helps her today feel close to God. The last thing I'll say is that I want people to know that even if they aren't PhDs or intellectuals or philosophers with a penchant for deep thoughts and analysis, Jesus Christ is always the lover and savior and transformer of souls. Rosaria's conversion is deeply marked by her personality, and its so beautiful the way the Jesus reached her in the way that matched her personality type. I believe he does the same for all his vastly different people.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Scott

    Rosaria Butterfield was a tenured professor of Critical Theory (specifically in Queer Theory) at Syracuse University -- feminist, lesbian, gay rights activist-- that is, until she received a nice note from a local pastor responding to a scathing article about the Promise Keepers that she published in a local paper. The note would be the official starting point of her conversion to Christianity. Often times the paragraph I just wrote seems like the hook to a kitschy evangelical culture warrior pu Rosaria Butterfield was a tenured professor of Critical Theory (specifically in Queer Theory) at Syracuse University -- feminist, lesbian, gay rights activist-- that is, until she received a nice note from a local pastor responding to a scathing article about the Promise Keepers that she published in a local paper. The note would be the official starting point of her conversion to Christianity. Often times the paragraph I just wrote seems like the hook to a kitschy evangelical culture warrior publication. This book is not that. Butterfield's conversion is less "accepted Jesus in my heart" fluff and more the result of a cosmic car crash with her conversion being the moment before impact. A car crash, like Butterfield's conversion, still leaves devastating wreckage. Her story is the odd journey from professorial feminista to homeschooling adoptive mother and pastors wife in niche Reformed Presbyterian denominations -- you really can't make this stuff up. However, her story illustrated by her mighty prose is beautiful. She covers an array of topics from the importance of understanding worldview, to Christian hospitality, to the struggles and joys of mercy ministry and adoptive parenting, to her acute understanding of sin as it relates to gender and sexuality. This book is really great. The only potential downside were a few random rabbit trails -- defense of the Regulative Principle of Worship and quoting the wedding sermon her pastor gave in full -- that could potentially limit the reading audience of this otherwise remarkable book. Other than that, I was blessed beyond measure by Butterfield's story and insight. I'd especially encourage this book to anyone who is desiring to better understand how Christian's can understand and begin conversation with the GLBT community. Butterfield's insights are worth the price of the book alone.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Erika Schanzenbach

    This book testifies to the dangerous nature of a life given to Christ. Rosaria Butterfield's relation of her experience of being drawn to belief in the saving work of Christ by no desire or will of her own, and the subsequent upheaval and destruction it brought to all she had built in her life, is revealing. It reveals the all-encompassing nature of a life lived in obedience to Christ and His word. It reveals the pride of many Christians in how we relate to those outside the church. It reveals t This book testifies to the dangerous nature of a life given to Christ. Rosaria Butterfield's relation of her experience of being drawn to belief in the saving work of Christ by no desire or will of her own, and the subsequent upheaval and destruction it brought to all she had built in her life, is revealing. It reveals the all-encompassing nature of a life lived in obedience to Christ and His word. It reveals the pride of many Christians in how we relate to those outside the church. It reveals the power of God's word to change a heart. It will leave you thinking of how you can change the way you relate to people, how you can make a better effort to really see and know people, and how you can open yourself to all the work that the Lord has for you. The three star rating is mostly because it did seem like Butterfield was distracted in places. She takes what amounts to a long look in such a short book at the Regulative Principle of Worship. This seems like a sidetrack and doesn't really cover the topic well enough for the reader to form an opinion about it if they do not already have one. Also, the use of only first letters to refer to many different people in the book is tiresome. If you aren't going to use real names, just give them fake ones, it would be less distracting and easier to keep track of.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Marina Sato

    A truly inspiring testimony about the power of Christ.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

    Here's a story of a tenured-lesbian-English-professor turned Reformed-Presbyterian-pastor's-wife. It is a fascinating book, and it tells a fascinating story of grace, grace in the life of an "unlikely convert." As a tenured professor at Syracuse University of English and Women's Studies (and Queer Theory), she was on a quest to disprove the Bible and its claims. While she appreciated the Bible's literary value, she utterly disdained the worldview it represented and scoffed at Christia Here's a story of a tenured-lesbian-English-professor turned Reformed-Presbyterian-pastor's-wife. It is a fascinating book, and it tells a fascinating story of grace, grace in the life of an "unlikely convert." As a tenured professor at Syracuse University of English and Women's Studies (and Queer Theory), she was on a quest to disprove the Bible and its claims. While she appreciated the Bible's literary value, she utterly disdained the worldview it represented and scoffed at Christian rhetoric represented by Pat Robertson and his ilk. (She quotes Robertson at the 1992 Republican National Convention: "Feminism encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.") She was befriended by a local Reformed pastor and over the course of two years she met with him and his wife. Through these conversations and her reading of the Bible, she slowly realized the emptiness of her worldview, of her inability to answer the nagging "Big Life Questions." One Sunday morning she woke up next to her girlfriend and an hour later she was sitting in a church pew. That night, at home, she prayed to Jesus to "change her heart" and to allow her to repent of her sin: "I prayed that if my life was actually his life, that he would take it back and make it what he wanted it to be. I asked him to take it all; my sexuality, my profession, my community, my tastes, my books, and my tomorrows" (21). In short, conversion put her in "a complicated and comprehensive chaos" (27). This is a wonderfully written book with smooth prose and clever turn of phrases (I wouldn't expect anything less from a former English prof). But beyond the literary appreciation, in reading this book I have come to see anew and in a fresh way (1) the radical nature of conversion and commitment to follow Christ; (2) the value of patient and tactful evangelism; (3) the way in which the LGBT community can often perceive Christians; (4) the ongoing nature of sin struggles long after conversion; (5) the beauty of a church community being just that: the church; (6) the importance of worldview in framing life; (7) the symptomatic nature of sexual sin (not causal); (8) the need for and glory of adoption; (9) the historical rootedness of confessional belief; and (10) the joy of being a pastor's wife and pouring into your children. I'm not convinced by Butterfield's stance on the Regulative Principle and conviction that psalm-singing is the only legitimate expression of corporate worship. I'm wary of some of her views on homeschooling. Beyond these two minor quibbles, however, I think this is one of my favorite reads of 2013. I can't recommend it enough!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Anita Yoder

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I've rarely been so gripped by a book. Rosaria's command of English kept my attention at the beginning (that actually seemed to wane at the end--was it her hectic life or a tired editor?) My favorite part was the friendship of the 70 yr old pastor, and how he showed her Jesus for 2 yrs before inviting her to church, which is usually the first thing evangelists do, not the last thing. I responded to reading about that simplicity and beauty and Jesus-likeness by underlining, highlighting, and grun I've rarely been so gripped by a book. Rosaria's command of English kept my attention at the beginning (that actually seemed to wane at the end--was it her hectic life or a tired editor?) My favorite part was the friendship of the 70 yr old pastor, and how he showed her Jesus for 2 yrs before inviting her to church, which is usually the first thing evangelists do, not the last thing. I responded to reading about that simplicity and beauty and Jesus-likeness by underlining, highlighting, and grunting in agreement by turns. Rosaria, for all her intellectual and linguistic prowess, holds to a very old-fashioned, uncool theology, which is another reason I admire her. She shoots straight, and holds no punches when talking about other Christians, which made me wince a little, but I got her point. I'm sorry that she got laughed at for holding to psalm-singing, but I do differ with her conviction there. The last chapter made me cry. The end of the book seemed more loosely written, not as tight and eloquent as the first part, but oh, the pathos and the care that seeps from the pages. I cried when the electively mute boy began talking. The same kind of love that thawed Rosaria's heart much earlier is what she now pours into other hearts, and gives life. Jesus is like that. This book confirms that.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jacob Meiser

    This book challenged my self-centered, sheltered Christianity more than any other book I have read. Through Rosaria's honest and messy account of her conversion, my eyes were freshly opened to the power of the gospel and what it really means to love others. As Jesus said, "He who has been forgiven much loves much," and that is abundantly evident in this book as Rosaria goes on to explain the mercy ministries that her and her family continue to be involved in. Though this book is certainly permea This book challenged my self-centered, sheltered Christianity more than any other book I have read. Through Rosaria's honest and messy account of her conversion, my eyes were freshly opened to the power of the gospel and what it really means to love others. As Jesus said, "He who has been forgiven much loves much," and that is abundantly evident in this book as Rosaria goes on to explain the mercy ministries that her and her family continue to be involved in. Though this book is certainly permeated with a Presbyterian theology that I don't necessarily agree with entirely, I cannot recommend it enough.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Julie Biles

    The author is raw, real and refreshing. Butterfield is not concerned with impressing or influencing the reader to think highly of her. She does challenge the reader to read and listen to a point of view other than the one he or she holds. I so appreciate this about the book! She spends quite a few words defending her denomination's views on corporate worship issues. Those were not my favorite pages but clearly, this is important to her. Life would be fuller, deeper, wider and more satisfying if The author is raw, real and refreshing. Butterfield is not concerned with impressing or influencing the reader to think highly of her. She does challenge the reader to read and listen to a point of view other than the one he or she holds. I so appreciate this about the book! She spends quite a few words defending her denomination's views on corporate worship issues. Those were not my favorite pages but clearly, this is important to her. Life would be fuller, deeper, wider and more satisfying if there were more writers like Rosaria Butterfield.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tressa Lancaster

    I loved this book at the beginning, and for about 2/3 of the way, until she began to feel the need to cheer lead for Presbyterian worship distinctives. If they had been mentioned, no problem, but to denigrate other views...in my mind that made her into what she spoke against at the beginning, bound by the views of those around her, into a walled in ideology.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Cinnamon Wolfe

    Wow. That sums up this book in one word. Just wow. This might be one of the best books I have ever read. Not only is Rosaria's story of her conversion simply amazing it is untypical. She reminds me distinctly of two different people from history. The first being Paul. He hated Christians and persecuted them until one day Jesus knocked him over and changed his entire life. The second being CS Lewis. A thinker. A studier. Someone who is not just satisfied with what they are told, they go out and f Wow. That sums up this book in one word. Just wow. This might be one of the best books I have ever read. Not only is Rosaria's story of her conversion simply amazing it is untypical. She reminds me distinctly of two different people from history. The first being Paul. He hated Christians and persecuted them until one day Jesus knocked him over and changed his entire life. The second being CS Lewis. A thinker. A studier. Someone who is not just satisfied with what they are told, they go out and find out for themselves. They ask questions and get answers they weren't expecting, but because they are so logical and smart, they can't ignore the evidence. CS is one of my favorite authors because of his logic. I tend to think very deeply as well and ask a lot of questions and when the answers just make sense its almost like I can breathe a sigh of relief, even if the answer wasn't what I was suspecting in the first place. Rosaria's writing is pretty much exactly the same. She is ridiculously smart and her sentences are so well constructed that sometimes I would read them two or three times. Half of the time because I didn't understand it, and the other time because the words are put together so beautifully, I needed to go back and appreciate that sentence again! The subject of Rosaria's conversion is undoubtedly controversial. The life she led prior to her conversion is not an atypical life. It is a life that even Christians these days are beginning to compromise on. Her story of redemption however is powerful. Her description of how her life was a complete and utter mess after her conversion is, in my opinion, refreshing. So often we hear the watered down version of "accept Jesus and its all rainbows and butterflies afterward." That is a boldface lie and we as Christians are responsible. This is why Roasaria's story is so refreshing! It's REAL. It's not watered down, its messy, confusing and concerning. It sheds light however on areas that we as Christians really need to work on. What we are called to do, how we are to act and support and love others who are going through similar things as Roasaria did. This book really made me think and is sticking with me. It will probably be one that I re-read on a yearly basis. Praise God for this amazing lady who is being used powerfully by the kingdom. She is a true blessing.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jeff Short

    I hardly know where to begin with this book because there are so many layers to it. We could look at it from different perspectives and gain valuable insights from each. For example, this book could be read as a book about conversion in general or conversion of a lesbian feminist in particular. This book could be read as a book about the Christian life--repentance, faith, discipleship, and sanctification. This book could be read as a book about mercy and sacrificial service. This book could be r I hardly know where to begin with this book because there are so many layers to it. We could look at it from different perspectives and gain valuable insights from each. For example, this book could be read as a book about conversion in general or conversion of a lesbian feminist in particular. This book could be read as a book about the Christian life--repentance, faith, discipleship, and sanctification. This book could be read as a book about mercy and sacrificial service. This book could be read as a book about hospitality, neighboring, and friendship. This book could be read as a book about adoption, diversity, and outreach. I could go on, but I think by now you are on the business end of the rapier. With all this, you would think the book to be three times as long as it is, but it isn't. The chapters are longish by market fads but the number of chapters is few and the overall book is 128 pages. It could be read in one sitting, or at least in a week, a few chunks at a time. The book's impact extends far beyond its catalog stats. The author tells the story of her life, focusing on a little over a decade in which she was born again, converted unto Jesus Christ. The narrative is incarnational and compelling. She does not gush. The emotions she feels and incites are deep running. The questions she asks are honest and embarrassing. Her insights and assessments are simple and challenging. If you are to focus on one theme in reading this book, focus on the meta-theme of God's grace. This is a story of God's grace. God's grace is not safe and tidy. Neither is grace a flat proposition. God's grace is sharp, piercing, and dividing. Grace wounds and heals, kills and makes alive. Grace is dangerous and violent, but grace is always good and holy. Sin abounds but grace abounds much more. Grace is greater than all our sin. This grace is what we all need. I highly recommend this book. It is not illicit nor gratuitous, but it is real and honest. Caricature sensibilities will be offended. As she writes in this book, "Rahab the Harlot. Mary Magdalene. We love these women between the pages of our Bible, but we don’t want to sit at the Lord’s Table with them." Overall, we owe this sister a great debt of gratitude for opening up her home and inviting us in for a while.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jenny Preston

    Dear Christian, If you haven't read this book yet, please do. Every chapter - no, every sentence - will have you pausing to truly think through some of the foundational aspects of faith-meets-life. On the first level, this is a simple story, the story of a lesbian English professor with a focus on feminist theory who became a Christian and her journey into living that faith. As you get deeper, there are so many truths! And so many confrontations for those of us who may be considered c Dear Christian, If you haven't read this book yet, please do. Every chapter - no, every sentence - will have you pausing to truly think through some of the foundational aspects of faith-meets-life. On the first level, this is a simple story, the story of a lesbian English professor with a focus on feminist theory who became a Christian and her journey into living that faith. As you get deeper, there are so many truths! And so many confrontations for those of us who may be considered comfortable Christians. Rosaria doesn't pull any punches ("My unsaved neighbor needed Jesus more than this college student needed to hurl a few well-rehearsed epithets about the evils of public school." "We in the church tend to be more fearful of the perceived sin in the world than of the sin in our own hearts. Why is that?" And many other examples). The end result is a beautiful testimony of a life changed by God's grace and inspiration to live similarly. One major theme in the book, fleshed out in additional chapters in this expanded edition, is hospitality. A simple meal and honest conversation are powerful tools in the hands of Christ. I've been on the receiving end of this strange thing of biblical hospitality more times than I can count and it has changed my entire perspective. I've caught a vision of how family can look and people be discipled in an honest, informal way. My prayer is that some day I can extend hospitality in an effective way as well. "Secret Thoughts" well compliments some of the more theoretical hospitality books I've read (The Hospitality Commands, A Life that says Welcome, Life Giving Home) as a testimony of what hospitality can accomplish.

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